Q&A: Remote production and the broadcast market

By Contributed

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NewscastStudio recently talked to Andreas Eriksson, Telstra’s head of broadcast services, to discuss the status of the broadcast market and the growing use of remote production.

Are broadcasters spending too much money on legacy systems?

Potentially yes, there have been a variety of changes in the industry recently influencing how the traditional broadcast workflow is structured, in particular the move towards IP-based production and the introduction of the cloud. Companies are increasingly looking into hybrid systems, IP and cloud because they’re seeing the financial benefits of new technologies and advanced legacy systems. This shift shows legacy systems are expensive compared to the newer technology out there. This is true in all global markets, where increasing competition for viewership, rising content costs (especially in sports), rapidly evolving consumer expectations, demand for new services and the shift towards 4K are all putting pressure on cost.

Can you elaborate on some other changes to the global broadcast market?

The markets are becoming increasingly interconnected as well. Content producers, whether in Europe, APAC or beyond, want to reach international audiences. This is coupled with a rising demand in national markets for global content, especially with sports and live events, but also including drama and episodics if localization factors are taken into account. What is being seen at both ends of these increasing and deepening content flows is an upsurge in interest in using a single media service delivery partner capable of providing an end-to-end solution on both a national and international basis.

Another area witnessing a surge of interest is remote production which is becoming steadily more widespread. Broadcasters are finding they can save significant amounts of money by using remote production techniques, wherein camera paths and audio are fed via IP to centralized production hubs for switching live and editing.

You mentioned broadcasters are finding they can save money with remote production. What are the other benefits of remote production?

With less personnel and equipment needed on site — there are greater efficiencies in terms of personal transport and accommodation, but is only the start of the benefits that remote production accrues. Moving production to a centralized hub dramatically optimizes resource use, the same team and equipment being able to produce several events per day rather than the single one from a location. Additionally, by using the same setup it allows broadcasters to be consistent across their output, and with decreased setup times, be more agile in the way that they respond to changing events.

Other benefits include higher quality UHD, 4K and 8K productions, along with the ability to scale up with more cameras thus increasing the capacity of the broadcast for live events with multiple cameras, more data and new higher quality services. There is also significant reduction in costs, as the setup is repeatable and multipurpose. In addition, remote production has environmental benefits with a minimization in carbon footprint due to a reduced need for travel, and less power with centralized remote production hubs.

In your opinion, will remote production become the industry norm?

As the industry evolves, we are seeing exponential growth in remote production. We predict with more demand and increasing adoption, we will see competition increase as costs lower to provide better alternatives. We are not likely far off from remote production as the standard for all live events.

What are the challenges for broadcasters when it comes to considering upgrading technology?

The pressures on broadcasters are more intense in 2020 than ever before. And while rising numbers of them are looking to outsource whole sections of their workflow as the benefits of the cloud or hybrid cloud over on-premise solutions — scalability, responsiveness, decreased costs and more — become increasingly apparent, there are still greater efficiencies that can be achieved. Relying on one delivery system can also be costly, and one is not necessarily better than the other, they all have benefits. A hybrid delivery model like fiber/satellite/IP/cloud can be financially viable if you are with a global media service provider who owns and manages various content delivery infrastructure and couples the benefits from the systems, like Telstra.

The new techniques in broadcasting like remote production and changing business focus to using a single international media service delivery partner, are both initiatives that can further unlock the huge potential of global markets and increase the promise of monetization at the same time in a cost-effective manner.